Posted by & filed under Google Ads Tips, Keywords, Negative Keywords.

Negative Keywords is an essential component of campaigns. If you are into the business of selling  red shoes and don’t want to show for search terms such as red socks, then you add socks as a negative term. Negative keywords control irrelevant traffic from seeing your ad and  you have an ace up your sleeve, by saving money on your ad spend.

As your business grows so does your campaigns and negative keywords. Taking the example above, if you have 15 campaigns in your account then you start to juggle deciding on the following:

  1. You want to club negative keywords for campaigns created for red shoes for men, red shoes for toddler and red shoes for women
  2. You would prefer having individual negative keyword lists for campaigns created for red sparkling shoes and red ballet shoes
  3. You want a specific set of negatives for all the campaigns

Simply put, you want to centralize some negatives and assign individual negatives to some campaigns. But assigning lists manually to campaigns can become tedious. As you go on modifying and adding new keywords you tend to loose track of where you added and where you missed. You might find it tiring to sync the keywords across the campaigns. This purpose is met by AdWords Shared Negative Keyword Lists, which lets you add negatives to one or more campaigns. Checkout this post on creating shared negative keyword list in AdWords and how to expand your negative keywords list.

Shared Negative Lists

In this post, we will discuss about Shared Negative Lists in detail, so that you can easily work out a strategy for your business.

Understanding Shared Negative Lists

As explained above, shared negative lists lets you build a central list in your AdWords accounts. The decision is up to you whether you want to assign the list to one campaigning or multiple campaigns. Though AdWords has a tab of 5000 keywords per list and 20 lists per account, the numbers are quite sufficient. You can occasionally add negative keywords to a list, making it more manageable and totally in your control.

Sounds simple! Not really. You need to also master the art of understanding ‘how to differentiate your negative keyword lists‘. We will discuss that in detail in the next section.

Differentiating Negative Keywords Lists

Before creating negative lists, segmenting your negative lists should be adopted as a practice. Why? Each of your campaigns is built with an objective. A negative list should in no way obstruct achieving that intent. Also, an organized account is what marketers crave for. Separating your negatives will allow you to manage smartly and assign relevant keywords to relevant campaigns.

Let us help you understand what all negative list categories could be created:

1) Brand Negatives

Brand Negatives


If you are running separate campaigns for brand and non brand keywords then you may want to add all brand keywords as negatives in you non-brand campaigns. Brand keywords perform remarkably different from general keywords. They have lower CPC, higher CTR, lower CPA. Brand keywords typically get higher visibility with all the extended site links, call outs and other extensions that you may have enabled. Hence, you don’t want non-brand campaigns to cannibalize the brand traffic. That also messes with your metrics.

2) Competitor Brand Negatives

competitor brand negatives

You may not want to bid on your competitors’ brand names for a variety of reasons. You may have an agreement with each other not do the same. Your competitors may have their names under trademark protection which prevents you from using those names in the ad text or even as keyword. Or simply the fact that the traffic from your competitors’ brand converts very poorly. After all, they are looking for your competitor and not you .

3) Partner Brand Negatives

Partner Brand Negatives

You may find your affiliates or business partners bidding for the same keyword and competing for the same audiences. In such cases, you don’t want to show up for your search queries with your partner’s brand name. Creating a negative list with the affiliate brand names can prevent your ad from showing. You might want your affiliates to do the same i.e., not bid for your brand name as it may dilute the brand’s essence.

4) Target Audience Led Negative List

Target Audience Led NegativesIf you have campaigns targeted for a highly segmented audience then you would not want them to see ads of services or products not meant for them. For instance if you sell kids scarves and women scarves and have created different campaigns for each, you would want to add all keywords under women scarves as negative keywords in kids scarves and vice versa. This would prevent your audiences from viewing products that doesn’t cater their needs.

5) Related Product Negatives

For online marketplaces or for companies selling myriad product/service categories , there are chances of repetitive keywords. Though you make separate campaigns for each of them, but there is a chance of traffic crossing over the boundary. For example, if you are selling mobile battery, battery charger and laptop battery and have the common keyword ‘battery’ across the individual campaigns created for each, you might want to do the following:


Campaign Name Negative Keyword
Mobile Battery Campaign battery charger” , “laptop battery”
Battery Charger Campaign laptop battery” , “mobile battery”
Laptop Battery Campaign mobile battery”, “battery charger”


This sort of arrangement ensures that the queries are redirected to the correct campaigns. Negative lists here help your campaigns receive only relevant traffic.

6) Shopping and DSA campaigns

Dynamic Search Ads show based on your site’s content and Shopping Campaigns refer the products groups to show the product ads. In both these campaigns no keywords are added and thus it might collide with ads of your other campaigns. To prevent any kind of cannibalization, all existing campaigns keywords might be used as negative keywords in these campaigns. Adding negative lists to the campaigns will ensure that DSA and shopping campaigns become the “catch-all” campaigns to soak up any residual traffic missed by existing keywords.

7) Irrelevant Business Terms

Irrelevant Business Terms


There are some terms which are irrelevant to your business and you would want to opt them out. For example, if you are into the business of taking cakes order online, you would not want to show for search terms such as how to make a cake, ingredients for making cake, make icing for the cake. These are terms which though contains your business term, but the intent is different. All these irrelevant terms may most probably be applied to all the campaigns. Unless you are running a blog where you are sharing such information then barring the campaign created for your blog,  you could apply it to the rest.

8) Common Terms

Common Negative Terms


Terms such as jobs, employment, facebook, twitter etc. could simply be done with. So, if your brand name is Cake4U, taking order for cakes online then you would prefer not to show your ad for search terms such as follow Cake4U on twitter, jobs in Cake4U etc. These are those generic terms which sometimes might get clicks and unwanted visits to your site.

9) Match Type Led Negative Lists

If you have organized your campaigns as per match types using similar set of keywords, it would end up creating conflict in displaying your ads.

For example, if  you have added the keyword red shoes in all your campaigns but with different match types, then the following occurs


Search Term Phrase Match Campaign

red shoes”

Exact Match Campaign

[red shoes]

Broad Match Campaign

red shoes

red shoes Ad gets triggered Ad gets triggered Ad gets triggered


In this case, the keyword triggers ads in all these campaigns. To avoid any cross impressions it is then wise to add all keywords from your phrase match campaign as negative keywords in your broad match campaign and exact match keywords as negative keywords in phrase and broad  match campaign.


Campaign Name Negative Keyword
Exact Match Campaign None
Phrase Match Campaign All Exact Match keywords
Broad Match Campaign All Exact Match keywords + All Phrase Match keywords


The result is:

Search Term Phrase Match Campaign

red shoes”

Exact Match Campaign

[red shoes]

Broad Match Campaign

red shoes

red shoes Ad doesn’t show Ad gets triggered Ad doesn’t show



For marketers who want to organize their account and spend little time in shifting negatives from one campaign to other, Shared Negative Lists makes it less taxing.

We will soon be coming up with a post on ‘Step-by-step guide to create Negative Lists‘. Look forward for it in this space.


Note: Karooya’s Negative Keywords Tool is now Free for accounts with ad spend less than $10,000 per month. Save 10-20% of your search ad spend for free. Sign up and start saving your ad budget now.


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3 Responses to “9 Types Of AdWords Negative Keywords Lists To Use”

  1. Anna

    Sorry I am a newbie so I don’t understand when the article said “your campaigns but with different match types” why you have to use exact match and phrase match when you also can use Broad Match Modified type ? I thought the BMM type will cover both exact and phrase already? Can you explain more about the strategy when we use all 3 kind of match in the same campaign or ad group? Thank you so much?

    • Shashikant

      Generally, you want to break out your Exact and Phrase match keywords separately as the intent on those keywords is much clearer. It’s not unusual to find best converting keywords to be in Exact and Phrase match. All the high value keywords should be in Exact or Phrase match so that you can bid higher on them selectively.

      If you use on Broad Match Modifier for all the search traffic, even poor performing or low ROI search terms will also get higher bids, when you raise their bid. When you have a limited budget, you would prefer to spend it on Exact and Phrase Match, instead of BMM.

      It is advisable that you use separate ad groups for each match type. Or, you could have campaign by match type. (I’m sure there different schools of thoughts on this, but, campaigns by match type has served us well.) This may get tedious to set up. But, the effort pays you off over a period of time.


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